Since it fits so snuggly into holes on my pegboard of my “Liberal Beefs”, I guess it was inevitable that I weigh in as an old white guy on the entire Zimmerman fiasco and the continuation of the Republicans’ dream of a return to the days when racial profiling was sound policy, women had no rights, and only pasty-faced mouth-breathers with a penis dictated what Americans could and could not do.
There’s an old anecdote about a community that existed very close to the edge of an immeasurably deep and foreboding abyss. The not-so-bright inhabitants were forever stumbling into the abyss. Whole families would try to retrieve loved ones from that crevasse to no avail.
Bear in mind, this abyss didn’t just show up one day after a thunderstorm. It was there all along, and yet people still, amazingly, kept finding some way to rationalize getting close enough to stumble, trip, or simply jump to their doom.
One day the community leaders got together and said “enough”! They addressed the problem by building a fence. Lo and behold, people stopped falling to their doom, and all was well for a good long time.
In fact, things went so damn well that the community decided that the whole damn problem was stupid, so why did they, being intelligent, rational people, so they didn’t need the damn fence any more.
So they tore down the fence. A week later, some dumbass was showing off to his girl that he wasn’t scared of that damned abyss and, yep, you guessed it, fell his dumb ass–in my opinion deservedly—to his death.
Racial Profiling, Women’s Rights, Voting Right, We’ve Been Here Before Dammit
George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict in the killing of Trayvon Martin strikes me as being the same kind of foolish, shortsighted and circular-logic-type thinking the fable above typifies. For a while in America we were engaged in serious conversation about the fundamental unfairness of racial profiling; the value women brought to ANY and EVERY conversation; the value of immigration, especially in light of the fact this country was founded by immigrants fleeing England.
There were well thought out deliberations, proposals, proclamations, and suggested legal recourse. Then, astonishingly, within the last 10 years or so, we seem to have completely gone off the rails of compassion, empathy, pride, and plain good sense. Not just anti-profiling policies but the entire edifice of civil rights laws, women’s rights, financial regulations, and human compassion have been attacked, eroded, torn down by this inane group of haters–financed by self-serving wealthy individuals who are using these lame-brained idiots to do their bidding–that have taken over the GOP from the reasonable people like Colin Powell, George Bush, Sr. and all the others who actually cared about this country more than their own political ambitions.
In Zimmerman’s trial, the judge explicitly barred any discussion whatsoever of racial profiling. At the same time, his entire defense was specifically and unambiguously premised on how much Trayvon Martin “looked like” a big, black “thug”, and how reasonable it was to be suspicious and alarmed when Trayvon – doing nothing more than walking toward his father’s house – resembled someone who “might be” a “predator” engaged in a “rash” or a “spree” of crime.
What else can we call it but pervasive racism when confronted with the overwhelming social consensus that so easily and completely displaced the real, unarmed kid carrying Skittles and a soda with ugly projected fears that did not exist in the world of reality?
What is it with these old, white, males in the Republican Party who spend all of their time trying to force women to have children, despite whatever horrible circumstances may have been involved in the forced impregnation of these innocent women? These complete idiots who say things like Todd Akin in Missouri and Indiana’s Richard Mourdock Who are these people to make such life-altering decisions for women ? These are the people who insist their judgment, their opinions, their superiority, is the only consideration worth considering.
Not lost in the smoke and mirrors that they continue to use to their utmost advantage, is the fact that they now want to make sure that even if the majority of the electorate disagrees with them, these same white, self-righteous males want to be sure that their will, their judgments, their opinions remains intact despite their feigned adoration of the Bill of Rights, The Constitution, and laws of the land.
They have systematically set about to rig elections, state by state, with the help of ALEC since 1973, so that that even if the poor unwitting army of easily-swayed suddenly come to their senses, they will remain in a position to bring down this country, if necessary, to regain complete control over each and every citizen.
This party that supposedly lives and breathes to bring about small and unobtrusive government want s to decide who can be killed for walking home at night (Trayvon Martin), who can be forced to have babies regardless if the baby was conceived by a heinous, brutal and illegal act, and who can and cannot vote and whether or not their vote will even mean anything because of they way they’ve redrawn voting districts that make an absolute mockery of our supposed precious democracy.
The civil rights movement of the 60s and 70s brought about some of the most effective structural transformations in race relations in US history. Since then the backlash has slowly swelled and regrouped. With the election of Barack Obama, there were those who insisted that the country had been “cured” of racism, and that we had achieved our long-hoped-for, color-blind, “post-racial” apotheosis. If only.
We’ve systematically allowed these greedy, cheating, lying scumbags on Wall Street and K Street dismantle every single protection erected for the average American after the Great Depression.
And we’ve allowed these greasy, selfish, lazy, mental midgets, once again, reduce the women of this country into their sex slaves to with as they please because it’s not the white, male perverts that will have to deal with the aftermath of these pregnancies, it’s the women that will have to deal with it.
Even The Not-So-Supreme Court Has Been Mangled Into Mess By These Reprobates
Over the past few years the “Supreme” Court has aggressively restricted laws meant to redress the legacy of segregation: it has held that it is in and of itself racist to consider race, even for purposes of remedying inequality. It has made proving discrimination nearly impossible by all but barring data about disparate impact. Just last month it gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, placing a nearly impossible burden on individual citizens to show that state officials had discriminatory intent in restricting the opportunity to vote. It has made class actions, the very staple of civil rights cases, almost completely unavailable.
What makes the freeing of Zimmerman particularly frustrating – to at least some of us in the United States – is that the killing of Trayvon Martin was in many ways simply business as usual, the continuation of a long and bloody history – except that in a “post-racial world”, we are not supposed to talk about it.
Zimmerman was found not guilty because of a series of unquestioned habits of thought: from the prejudgments that clouded his vision on that dark and rainy night; to the Sanford police department’s casual reaction to the crime scene, failing to preserve evidence or conduct a thorough investigation in a timely fashion; to the anonymous juror who has declared that Zimmerman’s “heart was in the right place”. We are afflicted with the kind of “common sense” that turns one black kid into all black men and all black men into criminals – and, most worryingly, all criminality into a black male “thing”.
The parable of the community fence, in its unadulterated narration, makes the community leaders sound simply foolish for tearing down the fence that ensures their citizens’ welfare. But if the moral is seen as a caution about due process and the structures of reconciliation that preserve us as a society, then the story illustrates the bewitching ease with which we sometimes get cause and effect exactly backwards.
In “post-racial” America, statistics are in many ways worse than they were in the 50s, particularly as to the so-called war on crime and its targeting of black neighborhoods. As Michele Alexander’s excellent book The New Jim Crow has documented, our unequal enforcement of drug laws, as well as stop-and-frisk policies that target African-American neighborhoods exclusively are creating a caste system nourishing expectations and assumptions that all but condone the outcome in the Zimmerman case.
But this is a tale that is complicated by, but not exclusively about, race: for along with the slashing of funds for social safety nets and public accommodations of all sorts – from public housing to public education and law enforcement – we seem to be entering a war of worlds where each of us will be subject to the imaginary, rather than legislated, justice of whichever of one’s neighbors has the biggest gun.
So just how far are average Americans prepared to be dictated to by the self-appointed superiors in Washington with the “(R)” in front of their names? How far are average Americans prepared to let these mean-spirited, unsympathetic, selfish, greedy bastards continue to push us around? Until we have no more say in the matter?
I guess we’ll find out in 2014.
Harvey A. Gold